Uncertainty over what happens if American tech titan gets blacklisted over R822-million tender

The Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) move to blacklist Oracle from doing business with government raises questions about how widely the ban will extend.

Following a three-year investigation, the SIU reported five criminal matters to the National Prosecuting Authority regarding the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) contract awarded to Oracle in 2015.

Oracle owns the Java programming language and the MySQL database management system (DBMS) — two highly popular tools software developers use globally.

Its own Oracle Database system is also widely used by organisations and governments — including in South Africa.

It is unclear whether an Oracle blacklisting would extend to its software, effectively blocking South African companies who use these tools in their products and services from doing business with the government.

The tender was awarded to Oracle after an initial R1 billion IFMS contract was abandoned in 2014.

Parliament was first informed of possible maladministration of the new tender in 2017. Then finance minister Malusi Gigaba, said he would appoint a team and report back to Scopa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the SIU to investigate the tender in 2020.

SIU head Andy Mothibi, mentioned that the investigation lasted four years and had proved a conflict of interest between senior Treasury officials and Oracle.

The evidence has yet to be made public, but Mothibi assured it was sufficient.

If Oracle’s blacklisting is wide-ranging, it could have a substantial impact on businesses tendering for government contracts.

MySQL has a market share of 42.32% within the DBMS market and is widely used by websites all over the world. Oracle Database has 11.32%.

They rank first and third, respectively. Together, they give Oracle a majority share of the global DBMS market.

The Java programming language is also one of the most popular globally.

It ranks second on the Popularity of Programming Language Index (PYPL) and makes up 16.04% of developers worldwide, second to Python.

According to OfferZen’s State of the Software Developer Nation report, 22.7% of all South African software developers use Java as a programming language.

MyBroadband asked the SIU for clarity, but it did not respond.

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Uncertainty over what happens if American tech titan gets blacklisted over R822-million tender